Council appoints Lisa Kirk to fill McLeod’s vacancy

She has attended every meeting of the Liberty Hill City Council since she narrowly lost the election by 19 votes in May for the Place 5 position to then-incument Wendell McLeod.

So, when McLeod resigned his position to accept a job with the City as Water Utility Operator, the Council voted unanimously to appoint Lisa Kirk to fill the vacancy. She will take the Oath of Office at the next Council meeting July 25.

The Council made the decision Monday without interviewing or considering any other candidates. Mrs. Kirk will serve until May 2012, at which time an election will be held to fill the remainder of McLeod’s unexpired term, which ends in 2013.

Mrs. Kirk is a clerk for Williamson County Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace, and has lived in Liberty Hill since 2000. She is a member of Fellowship Baptist Church where she volunteers in the children’s department and in various organizations within the church.

Prior to appointing Mrs. Kirk, the Council unanimously accepted McLeod’s resignation, which was effective July 1.

In other business Monday, the Council voted 3-1 to adopt a resolution allowing the City to move forward to acquire Loop 332 from the state. In order to effect the acquisition, the Council authorized expenditures up to $10,000. The Texas Department of Transportation is working this summer to replace bridge culverts at no expense to the City.

Opponents to the acquisition, including Council member Byron Tippie, who voted against the resolution’s adoption Monday, say the City can not afford to take over maintenance of the roadway. Those in favor of the City owning the road say it will facilitate needed drainage improvements in the area, as well as allow the City to make reasonable improvements to downtown that could help local businesses.

Also Monday, the Council heard a presentation by Kathy Canady, chair of the Planning & Zoning Commission. While Mrs. Canady noted some accomplishments of the Commission over the years, she took issue with the Council’s plan to unseat all appointees before their terms expire.

Mayor Pro Tem Mike Crane proposed that all appointees to city boards and committees re-apply for the positions and be interviewed by Council. New candidates would also be considered. The deadline to submit applications for the volunteer positions was Friday, July 15.

In proposing the change on June 27, Crane said the applications of current appointees are outdated and he believed volunteers should complete new applications and submit to criminal background checks. He said there is a new application form that would provide city leaders with more complete information about the applicants. The Council agreed to start the process of restructuring committees with the Planning & Zoning Commission.

Mrs. Canady noted that the major difference in the forms was a question omitted from the revised form asking why the applicant wanted to serve.

She addressed the issue of nepotism as some have questioned whether she should be serving on a city committee when her husband, Charles Canady, is a member of the City Council.

“I was appointed to P&Z because nobody else really wanted to be on the board at the time. It was not a very popular place to be. It’s sad to think that wanting to serve and give back to a community that I felt had given me something is a reason to be ridiculed,” she said.

“To be punished because you are married to someone or are a friend to a member of the Council, or because you have lived in Liberty Hill for a long time and speak your mind are sad reasons to use nepotism and has nothing to do with the definition or use of the word,” she added.

Mrs. Canady said Council members should look first at each other when it comes to possible conflicts of interest and ethical violations. Without listing names, she said some had voted on items that benefitted them financially, sponsored items that might benefit their businesses, expected rules to be bent so they could host public events, and written “slanderous opinion articles.”

Mrs. Canady, who said Tuesday she will not apply for another appointment, said the Commission has been the “go-to group for any task given to us by the Council. Studying the revitalization of downtown, looking for alternate sites for parking, looking at transportation issues such as the Loop 332, looking at nuisance ordinances, which was not popular, and other issues.”

The Council also heard a report by Economic Development Corp. President Cathy Cantrell, who prefaced her presentation by noting that the Board of Directors failed to meet as scheduled July 7 because a quorum of members were not present.

Those in attendance at the EDC meeting were Mrs. Cantrell, City Manager DeLaRosa and a reporter from The Independent. Directors who were absent and did not provide prior notification were Glen Gavin, Dave Parker, Liz Rundzieher, John Austin and Charles Canady. There is one vacant position on the EDC Board.

Also this week, the Council recognized the life-saving actions of Richard Montes who rushed to his father’s aid as he was being attacked by a bull. Richard and his father sustained serious injuries in the attack. A proclamation by the City Council designated July 11 as “Hometown Heroes Day” in honor of Richard Montes.

The story of Montes’ heroic act was featured in the June 16 edition of The Independent and can be found on http://radiofreelibertyhill.com/Content.aspx?p=2011_MontesBullinjury.

The Council also presented Troy Joseph with a plaque in appreciation for his many years of service to the community. Joseph, 91, manned the Information Center at City Hall for a number of years until last week when for health reasons, he decided he would no longer be available. News of his departure from the familiar post on Loop 332 was announced in the July 7 edition of The Independent, which can now be found on www.RadioFreeLibertyHill.com.

The Council also voted Monday to offer city employees the benefit of having their paychecks deposted directly to their banks. Union State Bank will provide the service free of charge to the City, DeLaRosa said.

The Council will hold three workshops in the coming weeks to begin discussions on the city budget for the upcoming fiscal year. The workshops, which are open to the public, will be from 5:30-8:30 p.m. July 19, from 5:30-6:30 p.m. July 25, and from 5:30-8:30 p.m. August 15.